Montenegro:  Jovo Martinovic must be acquitted

UPDATE 9 October 2020 Montenegrin journalist Jovo Martinovic was  sentenced to 18 months in prison on 15 January by a court in Podgorica,  after being convicted of creating a criminal organisation as well as unauthorised production, possession and traffic of narcotics. The IFJ and the EFJ join their affiliate in Montenegro the Trade union media of Montenegro (TUMM) in denouncing the ruling and calling on the Court of appeal  to set aside the first-instance court's verdict and respect press freedom.


Martinovic was arrested in October 2015 and spent 14 months in detention before his release on bail in January 2017 and allowed to defend himself . He has always claimed his innocence, stating that his relation with the first inductee in this case was  linked to his work as journalist on a documentary film for a French television company. The latter has confirmed this statement.

"The verdict on Jovo Martinovic's case once again showed that the Montenegrin court failed to understand the nature of journalistic work and it is possible that this is one of the reasons why Martinovic was found guilty.  One of IFJ and EFJ's main concern is that the court considered Martinovic's journalistic skills in identifying members of the criminal organization dealing with drug trafficking and thus put journalism into the service of crime which is unacceptable. Since the Prosecution did not offer concrete evidence to support their charges against Martinovic, we believe that it would only be right to acquit him,“ said the president of Trade Union of Media of Montenegro, Marijana Camovic. 

The IFJ supports the Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for advocating media freedom and journalists’ safety 's  demands for Martinovic to be treated fairly in the appeal process and asks the Montenegrin courts to apply the highest standards of the European Court of Human Rights concerning the rights of journalists and media freedom. 

We call on the Montenegrin judiciary to refrain from confusing pure journalistic work with criminal activities. Telling the truth is not criminal. It is central to core democratic values that Montenegro should abide by," said IFJ President Philippe Leruth.

Update: In a retrial held on 8 October 2020, Montenegro’s High Court found Martinović guilty of alleged "participation in drug trafficking". He was sentenced to one year in prison but does not have to go back to prison due to the time he has already spent in pre-trial detention. Nevertheless he will now hold a criminal record.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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